Guidance

Healthcare in Austria

Healthcare information for UK nationals living in, visiting or moving to Austria.

Stay up to date

The UK is leaving the EU. This page tells you how to prepare for Brexit and will be updated if anything changes.

Sign up for email alerts to get the latest information.

This content was originally published on the NHS website.

Healthcare in Austria after Brexit

You need to be ready for possible changes to your access to healthcare if there is a no-deal Brexit and you are a UK national living in Austria.

You should review your access to healthcare now. There may be a gap or permanent change in how you access healthcare if there is a no-deal Brexit and no agreements with Austria in place.

For example, if you are a current S1 form holder, or a posted worker or student using a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) you will not be able to rely on these to access your healthcare as you do now.

If you live in Austria

You need to make the best decisions for your circumstances and consider:

  • registering to live in Austria
  • registering for healthcare under the local rules and legislation of Austria
  • buying comprehensive health insurance while you are applying for residency or if you are not eligible for local schemes

Make sure you have all the right documentation and it is up to date.

The Austrian social insurance system is organised on a professional basis. This means that registration in the Austrian statutory health insurance system is typically done through your employer.

People who are self-employed or otherwise uninsured can take out voluntary health insurance themselves. It is mandatory to have health insurance while you are in Austria, including while you are applying for residency.

If you want to retire in Austria, you will need proof of health insurance covering all the necessary costs and proof of sufficient finances.

S1 certificate holders

Your S1 certificate may not be valid if there is a no-deal Brexit. This will depend on whether the UK has an arrangement with Austria and may mean you have to pay in full for treatment.

Studying in Austria before Brexit

Your EHIC may not be valid after exit day if there is a no-deal Brexit. This will depend on whether the UK has an arrangement with Austria and might mean you need to pay in full for treatment.

If you’re already studying in Austria before the UK leaves the EU, the UK will cover your healthcare costs for the duration of your course.

Students starting courses after the UK leaves the EU should ensure they have comprehensive healthcare cover in place.

Get help paying for medical treatment after Brexit

During the first 6 months after Brexit, if you need medical treatment and you’re being asked to pay for it, the UK can help.

This may be through arrangements with the country you live in, or by paying your healthcare provider directly.

To organise a payment, you’ll need to give your healthcare provider’s details to the NHS Business Services Authority’s Overseas Healthcare Services.

Call the NHS Business Services Authority on +44 (0)191 218 1999 for more information. Lines are open Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm and Saturday 9am to 3pm (UK time).

Using NHS services when visiting the UK

You should not expect to be able to use NHS services for free if you are living in Austria and are not currently eligible for a UK-issued S1 form or EHIC. You should take out appropriate travel insurance when visiting the UK, as you would when visiting any other country.

You can use NHS services in England, Scotland and Wales without charge after exit day, if you are living in Austria before exit day and you:

Returning to the UK permanently

If you return to the UK permanently and meet the ordinarily resident test you will be able to access NHS care without charge.

European Health Insurance Cards (EHIC)

Your EHIC may not be valid if there is a no-deal Brexit. This will depend on whether the UK has an arrangement with Austria and might mean you need to pay for treatment.

Make sure you have comprehensive travel insurance if you’re planning to visit Austria.

Check your insurance has the necessary healthcare cover to ensure you can get any treatment you might need. If you have any pre-existing health conditions, talk to your insurer about how to get the right cover, and how this affects your travel.

Your EHIC can be used to access UK-funded treatment if your visit or treatment started before exit day until you return to the UK.

To organise a payment, you’ll need to give your healthcare provider’s details to the NHS Business Services Authority’s Overseas Healthcare Services.

Call the NHS Business Services Authority on +44 (0)191 218 1999 for more information. Lines are open Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm and Saturday 9am to 3pm (UK time).

Living in Austria

This information is about healthcare in Austria before Brexit. Find out about healthcare for UK nationals living in Austria after Brexit.

If you are living and working in Austria, make sure you register with the Austrian authorities and with one of the state health insurance providers.

Working in Austria

Nearly all employees in Austria pay into the social security system and are therefore covered by health insurance, which is mandatory.

Once you are paying into the Austrian social security system and you have been registered with the relevant health insurance provider, you will receive your social insurance card. This is called the e-card. You should always bring this card with you when visiting a doctor. This will entitle you to state-run healthcare on the same basis as an Austrian national.

For more information, visit the Main Association of Austrian Social Security Institutions website (information available in English).

UK posted workers

You may be entitled to health cover funded by the UK if you are a worker posted by a UK company to Austria up to the date the UK leaves the EU.

You can find out more from HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC):

S1 certificate

This information is about healthcare in Austria before Brexit. Find out about healthcare for UK nationals living in Austria after Brexit.

You may be entitled to state healthcare paid for by the UK if you live in Austria and receive:

  • an exportable UK State Pension
  • a contribution-based Employment Support Allowance
  • another exportable benefit

You will need to apply for a certificate of entitlement known as an S1 certificate.

An S1 certificate helps you and your dependants to access healthcare in Austria. If you already have an S1 certificate, it will be valid until the UK leaves the EU. This should be sent to the Austrian state health authority to allow you to hold a valid e-card for the period until the UK leaves the EU.

You may be eligible for an S1 certificate, if you:

  • receive certain UK benefits, such as a UK State Pension
  • are employed by a UK body or firm (you are a posted or frontier worker)
  • are dependant of someone who has an S1 certificate

You can apply for an S1 certificate through the Business Services Authority.

If you receive a UK State Pension, you can apply for your certificate via the Overseas Healthcare Service on +44 (0) 191 218 1999 (option 5).

It is possible to apply for an S1 certificate until the UK leaves the EU. It is important to have all the right documentation and that it is up to date.

For other exportable benefits, you may need to speak with a different team depending on the exportable benefit.

Read more about claiming benefits if you live, move or travel abroad. Please note that different exportable benefits can have different rules in terms of healthcare cover.

Studying in Austria

This information is about healthcare in Austria before Brexit. Find out about healthcare for UK nationals studying in Austria after Brexit.

If you are a UK resident and studying in Austria, your UK-issued EHIC will be valid until the UK leaves the EU.

The government always advises UK nationals to take out comprehensive insurance when going overseas. Your EHIC is not an alternative to insurance and you should have both when you travel abroad.

Read more about healthcare when studying abroad.

For more information about healthcare when living abroad, read the NHS guide on planning your healthcare when moving abroad.

Visiting Austria

This information is about healthcare in Austria before Brexit. Find out about healthcare for UK nationals visiting Austria after Brexit.

UK-issued EHICs will still be valid until the UK leaves the EU.

Make sure you have comprehensive travel insurance if you’re planning to visit Austria.

The government always advises UK nationals to take out comprehensive travel insurance when going overseas. Your EHIC is not an alternative to travel insurance and you should have both when you travel abroad.

Your EHIC enables you to access necessary state-provided healthcare in Austria at a reduced cost, or sometimes for free, if you are staying there temporarily.

Austria does not have a national health service like the UK. Instead their health service is organised by region with regional authorities. This is called Gebietskrankenkasse (GKK). Download the GKK list (PDF, 53kb) containing a list of these regions and their relevant authorities, including contact details.

To use your EHIC, you must check that you are treated by a provider who has a contract with one of the GKK regional health insurance offices. Doctors usually display a sign saying ‘Kassenarzt’ (contracted doctor) or ‘Alle Kassen’, which means they operate under the state system.

Remember to keep all receipts and any paperwork.

Pre-existing health conditions

You should buy medical travel insurance before visiting Austria if you have a pre-existing health condition. You must tell the insurance company about any pre-existing health conditions you have so that you can get the cover you need.

The Money and Pensions Advice Service has information about buying travel insurance for people with pre-existing medical conditions.

If you have a pre-existing condition that will need treatment while abroad, ask your doctor in the UK for advice before you travel. Take any documents about your health condition or medicine with you.

Your EHIC will be valid until the UK leaves the EU.

If you are travelling to have medical treatment, read the NHS guide to seeking medical treatment in Europe.

Healthcare services in Austria

Finding help in an emergency

If you have a serious or life-threatening emergency during your stay in Austria, dial 112. Calls are free of charge.

Dentists

Dentists are called ‘Zahnärzte’ in Austria. If you need dental treatment during your stay because of illness or an accident, you need to show a valid EHIC or e-card (verification of health insurance in Austria) to receive treatment at the same cost as a resident.

Only a limited range of dental treatment is available under the Austrian state healthcare system. Make sure you see a dentist that is contracted to one of the state health insurance funds.

For more details, visit the dental health section on the Austrian Social Security website.

Hospitals

Hospitals are called Krankenhäuser in Austria. You’ll need a doctor’s referral for non-emergency hospital treatment.

If you are admitted to hospital, you’ll need to show either a valid EHIC or e-card to receive treatment at the same cost as a resident.

Standard treatment is free of charge at hospitals that have a contract with the ‘Landesgesundheitsfonds’ – such as university hospitals or regional hospitals. There is a daily charge (maximum €21.90 per day) for a maximum of 28 days in a year in hospital.

You will be charged if you are treated by a private hospital.

Prescriptions

Pharmacies are called Apotheken in Austria. You can get prescribed medicines from any pharmacy. Non-residents will be charged the full cost of prescriptions.

You can search for local pharmacies, including pharmacies open at night or on bank holidays, on the Österreichische Apothekenkammer website (in German only).

Bringing your own medicines to Austria

Some prescribed medicines contain drugs that are controlled under the Misuse of Drugs legislation in the UK. This means that additional legal controls apply to these medicines.

You may need a personal license to take controlled medicines abroad.

Specific requirements also apply to:

  • the information that you must take with you
  • how you carry your controlled medicines

Read more about travelling with controlled medicines.

Published 23 September 2019